A judge ruled Friday that Missouri's secretary of state does not have to set a vote on a same-sex marriage ban for August -- a victory for Republicans hoping for a November date.
The ruling could complicate campaign efforts for Democrats, including senator and presidential candidate John F. Kerry (Mass.) and Gov. Bob Holden, in this swing state.
Democratic Attorney General Jay Nixon, who had sued Republican Secretary of State Matt Blunt on Thursday to try to force the August date sought by the governor, quickly appealed Friday's decision to the state Supreme Court.
The high court denied the appeal, however, saying the case must go through an appellate court. Nixon complied, and the state Court of Appeals set a hearing for Monday.
Circuit Judge Richard Callahan ruled that Blunt does not have to set an Aug. 3 election because the secretary of state's office has not yet received the official version of the amendment. The measure passed the legislature last week.
Some political observers believe that a large turnout of conservative voters drawn to the polls by the ban on gay marriage could provide Republicans with the winning margin in Missouri.
An August election would coincide with Missouri's primaries, which have traditionally low turnouts and do not pit Republicans and Democrats against each other.
"This office will continue to comply with the law. We must not permit any governor to start playing games with election laws," Spence Jackson, a spokesman for the secretary of state, said in a statement.